1 EAGLETON NOTES: Communications and Helplessness

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Communications and Helplessness

I'm in Callander.  I love Callander.  It is a small place and one where I feel welcome and at ease.  Thanks, of course, to friends I have here. The plan was to return home on Wednesday but things have not turned out well for travelling in the Western Highlands this week.  Ferries have almost all been cancelled on the West Coast of Scotland today as storm force winds and heavy seas batter the north-west of the country.  This morning at 6.25 I woke to a thunderstorm which appears to have knocked out the Vodafone cellphone network (although I'm told that Vodafone is exceptionally unreliable in this area anyway) and twelve hours later I still have no cellphone.  Fortunately I went into Stirling today and was able to catch up with people whom I needed - yes, it a need - to contact.

Calmac (the ferry operator) would not change my booking from this evening to a ferry tomorrow because they say the whole situation is too uncertain to take new bookings.  Given that many of us returning to the Islands will be the best part of a day's journey (through uncertain road conditions) from the mainland ferry terminals of Uig and Ullapool not even knowing if there is space on the ferry if we turn up is an irritation.  So tomorrow I shall have to take a gamble and set out for one of the ports and hope that I can get home.  There is no Met Office warning for severe weather on Friday but the windspeeds at Stornoway at the ferry times on Friday are worse than they are for tomorrow.

So it's been a couple of days of mixed weather and emotions.  The weather has ranged from cold, icy conditions to storms with some of the worst seas I've known on the West Coast and I've had most of a day without a cellphone signal.  On the plus side I've had a good time with friends, I've acquired a Philip Raskin and I've managed to get a few Christmas presents sorted.

22 comments:

  1. Wish you good luck with your journey home!

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    1. Thanks Monica. I'm hoping that at 9am I'll be able to re-book for a ferry this evening but it's all a bit in the lap of the gods of weather.

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  2. Raskin's paintings look amazing. If yours is an original it must have cost you an arm and a leg unless your use of the term "acquired" was just a euphemism for "tea leafed". When you do get back to Lewis I hope that all is well with your property. Good luck getting back.

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    1. Thanks YP. I always think of paintings like houses: we are their custodians for a certain period of time before we pass them to someone else to look after. It was quite modestly priced. Thanks for the good luck wishes. It looks like I may well need them. There wouldn't be much urgency but for the fact that my son goes away for two months on Saturday and I'd like to see him before he goes to the other side of the world.

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  3. I don't think I'd want to go anywhere near a ferry for a while after seeing photos of those stormy seas. Just as well you are made of sterner stuff. Thanks for the link to the painter of your latest acquisition. Did you get a wonderful moody sky? Can't wait to see a photo of it. Take care.

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    1. Thanks Pauline. Fortunately I'm a relatively good sailor and if a boat can cross the sea then I'm usually ok on it. I've been on some very hairy crossings over the last four decades.I shall post a picture of the painting after I get home.

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  4. Saturday looks better for travelling. I am still phoneless on EE so I think the lightning did a fare bit of damage.

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    1. Adrian it's really going to be a question of when the ferries sail and when I can get a re-booking. I'd like to be home before my son leaves on Saturday. I'm sorry to hear that you've got a cold.

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  5. Nothing is deader or more useless than an electric gadget when the power goes off. Today I was coming home from Redmond, when the power went out. Everything - traffic signals, street lights, lights in stores and businesses. It was just getting dark too, but I managed to get home in one piece. No idea how long the power will be off down there, at the foot of the hill, but we are supposed to get high winds tonight, so ours may go off too. Dinner is nearly cooked and I have the candles and matches out, so I'm ready for the outage if it comes. Stay warm and safe, and go home when you can, GB. We need you and your posts! :) DeeDee

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    1. DeeDee when I were at home I am fully prepared with gas cooking and auxiliary gas heating and lighting. However, as you said, it does become a serious problem when one tries to use one of the very many things we take for granted and which require electricity. Ah well there's always pens and paper to write letters and I have books by the hundred and my iPod has enough music to last me for the rest of my life and the auxiliary power storage will keep all my odds and ends fully charged for perhaps a week. And to think we just used to rely on candles and storm lanterns and peat fires when I first came to the Island and power outages were fairly frequent.

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  6. So the term "at the mercy of the weather" is very meaningful for you.

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  7. I hope your trip home will go well!
    How would I react/feel in this situation, I wonder. Would I fret and be restless, or become all calm to the point of fatalistic as in an "Insh'Allah" state of acceptance, and make the most of the unexpected additional time I'd have with my friends? I'd probably move between the two extremes from one hour to the next.

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    1. Oddly Meike I have no real cause for concern. I will get home eventually and I'm pretty laid back about that. However I do want to see my son before he leaves on Saturday and the ferries are likely to be quite full having had no sailings for several days. The shops on the Island have run out of fresh produce so there will be quite a few lorries backed up for travel as well.

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    1. Thanks Mersad. Safely home now and about to spend a day catching up with my various lives (and all the washing!).

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  9. Congrats on the Philip Raskin.....that's a great Christmas present.
    When I think that I'm here sweating every day in the heat and hardly getting any outdoor work done, I am truly thankful when I read your weather conditions....hope you make it safely back home.

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    1. Virginia I've wanted a Raskin for a long time. His pictures are in a friend's gallery. I just couldn't resist one any longer.

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  10. I thought of you particularly when I heard the forecast, Graham, I hope you get home soon.

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    1. I'm home thanks Frances. Back to the intermittent internet and the 40mph plus winds but at least it's a balmy 6ºC outside this morning and the clouds have lifted a bit so I can even put some of the lights off.

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  11. Oooh, I wouldn't mind a Raskin either. As for the rest… all the best! Let us know when you arrive safely.

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    1. Kate I've wanted a Raskin for a long time. Now all I have to do is alter things around so that I can hang it. I arrived home safely last night and had a very long sleep!

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